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Caffyns impresses despite reshuffle

AM100 retail group Caffyns will this month open a dual Vauxhall and MG Rover outlet in Tunbridge Wells, the latest stage in a steady expansion plan which has seen the group acquire the Skoda franchise for Tunbridge Wells and add a Volkswagen outlet in Brighton and Hove.

In addition, the group, which has more than 20 dealerships in Sussex, Kent and Hampshire, says “work is progressing” on a new Audi Centre in Eastbourne which it aims to open in spring.

Caffyns has posted strong interim results, with operating profits for the first six months up 15%, from £1.7m to £1.98m, on turnover up £4m to £80m. VAT refunds on demonstrator cars totalling £1.489m, plus interest of £1.9m, was agreed in September and further swelled the accounts.

The refund enabled the group to reduce its gearing while investing in its existing sites. A further claim has also been made to Customs with agreement pending the resolution of a point of law governing input VAT (AM, August 27).

Brian Carte, Caffyns chairman, says that considering the potentially disruptive changes the group has seen this year from buying/selling activity and the impending FSA rules, progress has been good.

“The economy has slowed in the last quarter but we remain well placed to continue to build on our success,” he adds. The interim dividend has risen to 8p per ordinary share.

Caffyns has been shuffling its franchises and re-shaping the business, which makes its interim profits increase an impressive performance, according to one analyst. “They have more than held their own – it’s certainly worth a modest handclap,” he says.

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